It’s Throwback Thursday and in honor of #tbt, I wanted to highlight some career guidance principles that have truly stood the test of time. These are what I would consider to be the classics. They are the rules that we’re familiar with and are still relevant today. Whether you’re a new grad or an experienced manager, you’ll want to keep these tips in your back pocket at all times.
1. Send ‘Thank you’ notes
So many job seekers interview and forget to follow up. This is critical is helping the interviewer remember you and the great conversation you shared. Put yourself in their shoes. They’re meeting with countless people and getting lots of information. They’ve seen a million impressive resumes and met with many well dressed, prepared hopefuls with the perfect answers to their carefully crafted questions. Everyone’s done well on the assessments and has glowing recommendations. This is your opportunity to carve out some extra attention from the hiring manager and reinforce all the reasons why you’re the one that can take their business to the next level. ‘Thank you’ notes may seem out dated but in today’s super competitive market, they just may be the thing you need so send a good one!
2. Use cover letters
Cover letters are your resume’s best friend. A good cover letter allows you to market your brand and show the interviewer why you are the ideal candidate choice. Some may argue that cover letters are antiquated and do nothing to influence the hiring decision. That could not be further from the truth. A targeted cover letter (or Pain Letter) put you ahead of the pack. It gives you an opportunity to connect the dots between your knowledge, skills and abilities to the role and needs of the organization. Use a cover letter! You’ll thank me.
3. Be on time
One major thing that’s changed in the modern work place is the 9am to 5pm schedule. Many companies have become flexible with work schedules due to employees’ family lives, daily commutes and the overall push toward a more balanced work environment. We have so much flexibility that we’ve forgotten how important it is to be on time. Your manager fails to respond to your urgent email in a timely manner and your productivity goes down. Meetings start late because the host had another meeting that ran over and everyone else’s day gets thrown off. Your inability to be punctual is not just affecting you. CBS MoneyWatch recently reported that punctuality breeds success. Those who are on time to work, meetings, respond to emails, etc. in a timely manner are more successful. They’re trusted. They make the jobs of those around them easier so others want to work with them. Flexibility is great when you absolutely need it, but don’t take advantage of this. Make every effort to be on time. Check the weather. If it’s snowing or raining, leave a bit early. Schedule your meetings wisely leaving space in between just in case one runs longer than expected. Punctuality still counts!
4. Look the part
In an era where we’re seeing pictures of successful figures like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates walking around in tennis shoes and jeans, it’s easy to forget how important it is to present yourself as a well-dressed, well-groomed professional. It’s still important for gentlemen to present themselves properly with a haircut, neat facial hair, a well-tailored suit, shined shoes and the right tie. It’s still important for ladies to remember that hair and nails must be neat, less is more when it comes to make-up, platform heels are a no-no and the 4-point jewelry rule is still in effect. Remember that most office spaces don’t have open windows so go easy on the perfume or cologne. People, including potential employers and clients, can only receive what they’re given. Make sure you’re giving your best by looking the part at all times. I assure you that both Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates understand this concept, own suits and wear them when needed.
5. Network in-person
Social media has officially taken over and networking has gone from handshakes, business cards and follow-up lunches to connection requests on LinkedIn and an occasional direct message. Master the art of networking the right way. Go to an event. Bring your business cards. Perfect your 20-30 second elevator pitch and move with confidence. Stop hiding behind your computer and get out there. Meet people. Invite someone out for coffee or grab a quick lunch. Create human connections and build real relationships that last.
6. Have a good handshake
I meet people all the time. I’m constantly shaking hands and it’s rare that I actually get a good solid handshake. Your handshake says a lot about you. I remember having to learn the proper way to shake someone’s hand and having to practice it over and over. A firm handshake sends the message that you are confident, do well in business matters and are probably someone others will want to work with. A weak (what we used to call “limp fish”) handshake says the opposite. I know it sounds old-fashioned but many fail their interviews largely due to a bad handshake. They made a bad first impression. Trust me on this one. Develop a good handshake.
7. Work on your writing skills
Ever since texting became a leading form of communication, the way we write has changed drastically. We have been introduced to emoji’s and acronyms that are weaving their way into our everyday language. Terms like ‘lol’ and ‘omw’ replace entire sentences. Instead of replying with an actual word, we use an emoji. With all this going on – even in the professional realm, it’s easy to understand why there is a need to focus on writing skills. Regardless of your position, you will have to send formal communications at some point in your career. It may be an email, a letter or memo but you will have to employ formal writing skills over the course your career and your life. Additionally, the way that you express yourself in your writing gives the reader insight into your level of intelligence and professionalism. Take a business writing class, start a journal, read more books and intentionally take a break from emoji’s and textiquette. Familiarize yourself with business writing techniques. Use complete words and sentences every time you write. You’ll be happy you did!
8. Always have a black suit on hand
The black suit is a quintessential piece of any professional’s wardrobe. It works for interviews. It works for meetings and presentations. It works when you need a professional photo for your LinkedIn profile. It just works!
If you don’t have one – shame on you! Get one. Keep it dry-cleaned, lint free and ready to go!
9. Learn another language
We live in a global society. We are made up of many cultures, languages, forms of music, religions and ways of doing business. Speaking more than one language opens the door to understanding the other cultures we share this world with. From a business standpoint, it opens the door to opportunities, partnerships and deeper business relationships. CNN named bilingualism as the hottest skill in the marketplace. There are so many resources available to help you. Everyone knows about Rosetta stone, but there are also free translation apps you can download to your smartphone and don’t forget the people in your own network. Do you have friends or colleagues fluent in the language you’re trying to learn? Leverage those resources to kill two birds with one stone by building that relationship and learning a new language.
Thank you for reading my post. My name is Pamela Shand and I want the best for you in your career. It is my hope that you find everything you read here helpful in advancing your career. If you did, feel free to follow my blog for future articles. I regularly write on resume building, interview success and various ways to unravel common and not-so-common career snags.
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